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Biohacking : The State of Tactile Notifications

We often find ourselves in a situation where our phone is buzzing away in vibrate mode, but due to social constraints or having having something in our hands we just cannot get to it. Smartwatches help a bit with this as they as they are easier to access and slightly less taboo to check in the presence of others. There are also situations such as driving, exercising and just carrying groceries where we can’t even check our watch and it would be awesome to know which app on our phone is generating the notification (phone call, e-mail, txt message, eBay, Evernote, etc.) and what the gist of the notification is. Unfortunately, the options are currently quite limited to get phone notifications into morse code pulses. We will review some of the techniques that could be used to utilize our sense of touch to stay up on incoming messages.

Xtactor – “Connect Your Brain to Your Phone”


This Swedish company has built a prototype of their morse code wrist band which vibrates notifications while making use of IFTTT. They have produced an elegant solution to the challenge of “looking at screens” by using vibrotactile stimulation of the skin. The crowdfunding campaign for the smart wristband starts in July 2019. This device will require learning morse code, but even learning just a few letters can be enough to tell you who is calling on your smart phone without needing to glance at the screen or having the ringer on. There is also the FOMO element that Xtactor is pushing. By disconnecting from the screen we can just receive the “important” messages we have been waiting for and not endlessly scrolling through social media streams waiting for likes.

There are devices by which you can see through electrotactile signals to your tongue (BrainPort) and hear through vibrotactile signals to your torso (Vest). Amazlingly, the brain is still able to interpret the information as sound and vision, making you see and hear!

With Xtactor you get information from your smart phone through vibrotactile signals on your wrist!

After some training you will be able to interpret the signals almost instinctively!

Custom MP3 Hack


Modern cell phones offer customizable ring tones for different contacts (depending on whether they are calling or texting) and apps have their own custom tones. We can use a text to morse code MP3 generator and create custom rings for your favorite contacts and apps. Just by knowing exactly who is trying to reach and through which application can be quite helpful even if the contents of the message are not known without looking at a screen. This audio file can be played, but we are not using our sense of touch. Also, moving MP3 files onto iOS devices tends to be unnecessarily complicated involving iTunes syncing.

iOS Custom Contact Vibrations


Fortunately, iPhones support custom vibration patterns. When you go into Contacts you can set “Ring Tone” and “Text Tone” to Vibration and you will be prompted to create a custom pattern by tapping your finger. These patterns could easily be morse code with the initials of the contact. Using this built-in is probably the best option for now until more solutions become available for morse code notifications.


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